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Venezuela: Nicolás Maduro – The Driver (English & Spanish) Printer friendly page Print This
By Luis Hernández Navarro, La Jornada (Translated by Ewan Robertson)
La Jornada
Sunday, Mar 31, 2013

Former Vice President Nicolás Maduro Moros, was sworn in as interim president of The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela by the National Assembly on March 9, 2013 following the death of President Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías. Maduro is now serving as interim president pending the outcome of new elections called for by the Venezuelan constitution on April 14, 2014. He is currently campaigning against Henrique Capriles Radonski who is running as the opposition candidate. Maduro is expected to win the election in a Chávez-style, landslide victory according to the latest polls.

Nicolás Maduro, driving a bus to the National Electoral Council to register his candidacy for president.

(Translated from Spanish to English by Ewan Robertson)

Nicolas Maduro is a robust, burly man, 1.9 meters (over 6 ft. 2 inches) tall with a thick black moustache. He drove a metro bus in Caracas for seven years, was foreign minister for six more and is now interim president and candidate for the country’s top office. He is part of the a generation of Latin American leaders like metal worker Lula da Silva and coco-leaf unionist Evo Morales, that entered politics from the trenches of opposition social struggles [translator: in opposition to the neoliberal administrations which governed Latin America before the continent’s ‘pink tide’, which began in the late 1990’s].

Maduro is a socialist revolutionary who modified his original orthodox position to join the heterodox hurricane of the Bolivarian revolution. He’s a man of the left who arrived to power without abandoning his principles. He is a self-made man, a loyal ally of Hugo Chavez and today is at the wheel of one of the deepest processes of transformation in Latin America.

Politics is in his blood, and he breathed it from his earliest days. Maduro was born in Caracas in 1962, into the heart of a family very committed to collective public action. His father was a founder of the party Democratic Action (AD) [founded in 1941] and organiser of the failed oil strike against the dictatorship in 1952, which forced him to flee and go into hiding.

In 1967 Maduro went with his parents to the rallies of the People’s Electoral Movement, a left split-off from AD, and a year later he attended the massive grassroots acts of support for the (presidential) candidacy of Luis Beltrán Prieto Figueroa. In this campaign Maduro became acquainted with the world of poverty [and] cardboard shacks. He also spoke in public for the first time, when his father put him on top of a car with a microphone.

Aside from parental influence, from a young age Maduro had his own political opinions. In 4th grade of primary school he defended the Cuban revolution against the criticisms of the monks who taught him. He was excluded from the classroom for three days and condemned to serve out his punishment in the library, which in reality was a reward for a restless boy who devoured any book he had before him.

Far from curing himself with the passing of time, his early interest in politics increased. When he was twelve years old and a high school student, he began to participate, unbeknown to his parents, in the Rupture movement, an open structure of the revolutionary project of Douglas Bravo. Youthful effervescence was the symbol of the times. From then he participated without interruption in community struggles, the organisation of cinema clubs, in union movements and armed grassroots conspiracies.

As a bassist in the rock group Enigma, he saw how many youths of his generation in the barrios became hooked into the world of easy money and drug culture, then becoming addicted and assassinated in gang wars. The experience marked him for life.

Nicolas Maduro, the same as Hugo Chavez, is a great baseball player – third base. However, unlike the comandante, who was a terrible dancer, he manages reasonably well when it’s time to dance salsa.

Participation in popular movements was his university. As with many other activists of his generation, his intellectual formation is directly associated with his involvement in the mass and revolutionary struggle. He studied the classics of Marxism and analysed and interpreted Venezuelan reality in light of their teachings. Gifted with an extraordinary capacity for learning, he has simultaneously been self-didactic and a leader instructed by years of organised political participation. Until the [electoral] triumph of Chavismo he regularly suffered police persecution, and lived, literally, one jump from death.

He participated in the Organisation of Revolutionaries, and in its open expression, the Socialist League: a Marxist revolutionary grouping born from a break with the Revolutionary Left Movement. Its founder, Jorge Rodriguez, was assassinated by the intelligence services in 1976. There, Maduro stood out as a brilliant organiser and political agitator of the masses.

In 1991 he began to work with the Caracas Metro. Outgoing, affable, charismatic, and committed to workers’ interests, he was elected by his co-workers as union representative. His vocation for democratic and class trade unionism meant that he was frequently sanctioned by the company. Following the 1989 Caracazo [translator: riots against a neoliberal structural adjustment package which were suppressed by state force and mass killing of civilians], he conserves the memory of the heart-rending sound of the permanent cries of the poor in the street, whose kin were murdered.

Maduro met Hugo Chavez like the majority of Venezuelans did: he saw him on television when Chavez assumed responsibility for the military rebellion of 1992. Over a year later, 16 February 1993, he met Chavez personally in jail, along with a group of workers. The lieutenant colonel gave Maduro the clandestine name of Verde and gave him the responsibility of various conspiratorial tasks. When Chavez was freed in 1994, Maduro dedicated himself to the movement’s organisation full time. Today's interim president was part of the Constituent National Assembly that drafted the new constitution in 1999. A year later he was elected deputy to the National Assembly. In January 2006 he was named Assembly President and a few months later resigned to become foreign minister. In this post he was a central actor in the effort to construct a multi-polar world, spearheading Latin American integration and build peace. From there he went on to become vice president, and a few days ago, interim president.

Maduro is married to the lawyer Cilia Flores; who is nine years older than him. She is an important figure in Chavismo, and has been, due to her own merits, president of the National Assembly, vice president of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), and Attorney General of the republic. They have one son, the flutist Nicolas Ernesto, and a grandson.

Chosen by Hugo Chavez as his political heir, on 14 April Nicolas Maduro will face the test of the ballot box. Emerging victorious, he will have the challenge of being the new ‘driver’ of the Bolivarian revolution; of solving problems such as insecurity and corruption, and continuing the comandante’s legacy: radicalising, and at the same time innovating it.

Translated by Ewan Robertson for Venezuela Analysis

EN ESPAÑOL

Nicolás Maduro, el conductor
Luis Hernández Navarro
La Jornada

Former Vice President Nicolás Maduro Moros, was sworn in as interim president of The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela by the National Assembly on March 9, 2013 following the death of President Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías. Maduro is now serving as interim president pending the outcome of new elections slections called for by the Venezuelan constitution on April 14, 2014. He is currently campaigning against Henrique Capriles Radonski who is running as the opposition candidate. Maduro is expected to win the elections in a Chávez-style, landslide victory according to the latest polls.

Nicolás Maduro, driving a bus to the National Electoral Council to register his candidacy for president.

 

Nicolás Maduro es un robusto grandulón de 1.90 metros de alto, y negro y tupido bigote, que condujo en Caracas un metrobús durante más de siete años, fue canciller otros seis y ahora es candidato a la primera magistratura y presidente encargado de Venezuela. Forma parte de la nueva generación de mandatarios latinoamericanos que, como el obrero metalúrgico Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva o el sindicalista cocalero Evo Morales, incursionaron en la política desde las trincheras de las luchas sociales de oposición.

Maduro es un revolucionario socialista que modificó su formación ortodoxa original para sumarse al heterodoxo huracán de la revolución bolivariana. Es un hombre de izquierda que llegó al poder sin abandonar sus principios. Un colaborador fiel de Hugo Chávez que se ha hecho a sí mismo, y que hoy está al volante de uno de los procesos de transformación más profundos de Latinoamérica.

La política le viene en la sangre, la respiró desde sus primeros días. Nació en 1962 en la ciudad de Caracas, en el seno de una familia muy comprometida con la acción colectiva pública. Su papá fue fundador del partido socialdemócrata Acción Democrática (AD) y organizador de una fracasada huelga petrolera contra la dictadura en 1952, que lo obligó a huir y esconderse.

En 1967 Maduro asistió con sus padres a los mítines del Movimiento Electoral del Pueblo, escisión de izquierda de AD, y un año más tarde a los masivos y populares actos de apoyo a la candidatura de Luis Beltrán Prieto Figueroa. En esa campaña Maduro conoció el mundo de la pobreza, de las casas de cartón. Y, por primera vez, habló en público, cuando su padre lo puso sobre el techo de un automóvil con un micrófono.

No obstante la influencia paterna, desde muy pequeño tuvo opiniones políticas propias. En cuarto año de primaria defendió la revolución cubana de las críticas de las monjas que enseñaban en su escuela. Como sanción fue expulsado del salón de clases durante tres días y condenado a purgar su castigo en la biblioteca, en realidad un premio para un muchacho inquieto que devoraba cuanto libro tuviera enfrente.

Lejos de curarse con el paso del tiempo, su precocidad política aumentó. De 12 años de edad y siendo estudiante del Liceo, comenzó a militar a escondidas de sus padres en el movimiento Ruptura, estructura abierta del proyecto revolucionario de Douglas Bravo. La efervescencia juvenil era el signo de la época. A partir de entonces participó ininterrumpidamente en luchas barriales, en la formación de cineclubes, en movimientos sindicales y en conspiraciones populares armadas.

Bajista del grupo de rock Enigma, vio cómo muchos jóvenes de su generación en los barrios se engancharon en el mundo del dinero fácil, de la cultura de las drogas, se volvieron adictos y fueron asesinados en las guerras de bandas. La experiencia lo marcó de por vida.

Nicolás Maduro, al igual que Hugo Chávez, es un gran jugador de beisbol –tercera base–; sin embargo, a diferencia del comandante, que era pésimo bailarín, se defiende razonablemente bien a la hora de bailar salsa.

La participación en movimientos populares fue su universidad. Como muchos otros integrantes de su generación, su formación intelectual está directamente asociada a su involucramiento en la lucha revolucionaria y de masas. Estudió a los clásicos del marxismo y analizó e interpretó la realidad venezolana a la luz de sus enseñanzas. Dotado de una extraordinaria capacidad de aprendizaje, ha sido simultáneamente autodidacta y dirigente instruido por años de participación política organizada. Hasta el triunfo del chavismo sufrió regularmente persecución policiaca, y vivió, literalmente, a salto de mata.

Participó en la Organización de Revolucionarios y en su expresión abierta, la Liga Socialista, agrupación revolucionaria marxista, nacida de un desprendimiento del Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria. Su fundador, Jorge Rodríguez, fue asesinado por los servicios de inteligencia en 1976. Maduro se destacó allí como brillante organizador y agitador político de masas.

En 1991 entró a trabajar en el Metro de Caracas. Echa­do para adelante, afable, comprometido con los intereses de los trabajadores, carismático, fue elegido por sus compañeros como su representante gremial. Su vocación por un sindicalismo democrático y de clase provocó que con frecuencia fuera sancionado por la empresa. Del caracazo de 1989 conserva en la memoria el desgarrador sonido de los lamentos permanentes de los pobres en las calles, a quienes les mataron a sus parientes.

Maduro conoció a Hugo Chávez como la mayoría de los venezolanos: lo vio en televisión cuando éste asumió su responsabilidad en el levantamiento militar de 1992. Más de un año después, el 16 de diciembre de 1993, lo conoció personalmente en la cárcel, junto a un grupo de trabajadores. El teniente coronel le dio el nombre clandestino de Verde y lo responsabilizó de diversas tareas conspirativas. Cuando Chávez salió libre, en 1994, Maduro se volcó de tiempo completo a la organización del movimiento.

El hoy presidente encargado fue parte de la Asamblea Nacional Constituyente de 1999 que redactó la nueva Constitución. Un año después fue electo diputado a la Asamblea Nacional. En enero de 2006 fue nombrado presidente del Poder Legislativo y pocos meses después renunció para ser ministro de Relaciones de Exteriores. Como canciller fue actor central en la apuesta por construir un mundo multipolar, impulsar la integración latinoamericana y construir la paz. De allí pasó a ser vicepresidente y, desde hace unos días, presidente encargado.

Maduro está casado con la abogada Cilia Flores, nueve años mayor que él. Figura relevante del chavismo, ella ha sido, por méritos propios, presidenta de la Asamblea Nacional, vicepresidenta del PSUV y procuradora de la República. Tiene un solo hijo, el flautista Nicolás Ernesto, y un nieto.

Escogido por Hugo Chávez como su heredero político, Nicolás Maduro enfrentará el próximo 14 de abril la prueba de las urnas. De salir victorioso, tendrá el reto de ser el nuevo conductor de la revolución bolivariana, resolver problemas como el de la inseguridad pública y la corrupción, y continuar el legado del comandante, radicalizándolo al tiempo que lo innova.

Source: La Jornada

 

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